Twitter is a great way to follow a variety of sources on current legal developments. By following legal academics, courts, or practitioners, you can keep your ear on the pulse of new cases or developments in the real word that might become tomorrow’s cases or that require the legal framework to evolve.
The problem I have is that Twitter is that great that I feel guilty for checking it whilst waiting in line for the self-checkout till at my corner store. There is all this information coming in, tantalizing 140 characters that make me want to follow up on what is promised there, but how to keep track of it?
I developed a fairly straight-forward system that allows me to use the time I spent waiting for the self-check out till (which never seem to deliver on their promise of speedy payment and invariably, there will be an unexpected item in the checkout area), without having to fear that I lose the interesting content I find on Twitter.
I am a very liberal user of the heart button. In fact, I somewhat regret it is no longer a star symbol, because in most cases, the star better symbolized what I use the button for: I bookmark content. This is content that I somehow want to follow up on later.
1 “Hearting” a Tweet
By “hearting” or “liking” a tweet, I can bookmark it for later, because every tweet I like will end up in my list of liked tweets that is accessible on my Twitter profile page. So this already allows me to have a fairly slowly growing lists of content that I want to follow up on (in the interest of full disclosure: sometimes I cannot help myself and simply hit the heart for content I simply enjoy, which is why the second item on the list is currently a somewhat obscure joke about a failed nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States from the 80s).
2 My “Likes”
However, I have taken this a step further: I noticed that I am mostly interested in Tweets that contain some kind of further content; be it by linking to a news story, to a blog post, or to an interesting judgment. The item I really want to follow up on then is not necessarily the Tweet itself, it is the target of the link contained in the Tweet. Thus, I wanted a way to bookmark and gather these links.
This is where I made use of the service “If This, Then That” (IFTTT). IFTTT is a service that allows me to create conditional statements that trigger actions based on changes to other web services. IFTTT calls these applets. In other words, IFTTT can trigger an action “If there is a new liked tweet by Twitter user JanJakobB, save the first link in this Tweet.” The first part is the condition, the trigger, the second is the action.
The only question I had was where did I want to save these links? One option would have been to simply create a long list of links, like a bookmark folder in your browser. But I wanted to have it more comfortably. I have an e-reader and a tablet, and I was looking for a way that content that I bookmarked from Twitter at the checkout line-up would automatically appear on those devices, so that I can read the content when I am at home, sitting on our couch.
This is why I chose to use an IFTTT applet that would save the link to another service called Pocket. Pocket was previously known as “Read It Later.” It is a service that allows a user to create reading lists in which an item is saved as an article. If you send a link to Pocket, the service will store the target of the link as an article, rather than just the link. It also can automatically send all new articles to all your devices on which you have the Pocket app. That way, new articles are automatically sent to my e-reader.
4 My Pocket App Reading List Created from Twitter Likes
Now, when I see an interesting Tweet while in line at the store, waiting for the unexpected item to clear the checkout area, I can simply tap the heart symbol, and then read all about Mr. S. and Ms. R. and their whirlwind relationship from the comfort of our couch, where my e-reader is already waiting, having downloaded the article.
5 The Top Item of My Pocket Reading List as an Article in the Pocket App
Dr Jan Jakob Bornheim, Lecturer, Essex School of Law
(Suggested citation, J.J.Bornheim, “How to Check Twitter While in Line at the Grocery Store and Still Keep Track”, available at https://law-academics-unblocked.org/2016/11/16/jan-jakob-bornheim-how-to-check-twitter-while-in-line-at-the-grocery-store-and-still-keep-track)